Bob Compton: From the BCC’s perspective, I agree with everything that Mike Cherry has said. That has been our line from day one.
Under auto-enrolment, if someone has opted out the company may, after three years—subject to the time period laid down by the Secretary of State—go for an automatic re-enrolment. That means that you may not only have to keep records of the contributions of those who are making payments, you have to keep a record of when an employee opted out, potentially.
Our view is that the processes for record information should be kept by the agency that is running the personal account system, and not by the employer. In my own business there are five people, and we run a reasonably generous pension scheme for them, but we have problems with the insurance company in terms of the collection mechanism and them keeping track of the records. Where you have a third party in a national scheme, with hundreds of thousands of employers all going to the same organisation, anything which puts a burden on the employer—the employer being the person who is responsible for that—will be detrimental from the employees’ perspective, because the employees’ first port of call must be to the agency running the administration of the pension scheme for any queries, questions or advice, and not the employer.